AP: Notre Dame begins spring football practice Wednesday looking for a new identity. The Irish are coming off a 12-1 season that was the program's best in two decades, but will no longer have linebacker Manti Te'o, tight end Tyler Eifert or Theo Riddick to depend on. Coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday that while the Irish may not have the great players it had last year, it has a lot of really good players. The Irish have positives to build off, but also have to put an embarrassing 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS championship game behind them. Kelly released a roster revealing linebackers Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox, offensive linemen Zack Martin and Chris Watt, defensive tackle Tyler Stockton and kicker Nick Tausch would be back for fifth years.
Coach Kelly stressed the importance of finding new leadership and a new personality. He also said this year's team definitely wants to get back to the National Championship.
"I think it's unmistakable when you see it and you're in that environment, you want to get back there because there's no atmosphere like it. It's not a normal bowl game. It's times 10. They all want to get back there. They know what they did last year to get there. For them to do it again, they probably have to even do more." "It's a great motivator for your football team. I think the experience you gain from going through that process is invaluable. So both of those working together, the motivation to get back there, then the experience of actually getting to that, knowing what it looks like, propels your team," Kelly said.
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